Top positive review
69 people found this helpful
Excellent receiver. Big improvement over more recent Denons.
on December 15, 2012
I used to be really into Denons AVRs. Had several units in pre-HD days and my most recent one before this 4520CI was an AVR-2805 that I loved. Then came HDMI and after having handshaking issues with Denon's initial offerings, I looked elsewhere. Enjoyed an Onkyo TX-NR905 for a while then replaced that with a Yamaha RX-Z7. Both were great. I purchased, tried, but eventually passed on a few Denon models at the time and went for these alternatives simply because in my opinion, they were overall better receivers than Denon's when I factored in sound, feature-set, and overall connectivity ease. While HDMI is still a pain to this day, some receivers handled it better than others.
Recently, my home theater needs have changed and I wanted a more current model that supported the latest fads and gimmicks. Happy with my RX-Z7, I initially decided to step up to another Yamaha, the RX-A3020 from their flagship Aventage line. Fantastic sounding receiver, typical of all Yamaha AVRs I've experienced, but with one big flaw: the HDMI handshaking bug existed in my unit. Without getting into too much detail with that issue, I decided to return the Yamaha and try others. Ordered a Denon AVR-4520CI which showed up DOA after likely being dropped several times by UPS from the damage to the box. This first shipment was not double-boxed like Amazon normally does and the result was apparent shipping damage. Since I was on a roll with my AVR misfortunes, I decided to order several other AVRs so I can try them all out. Ordered another 4520CI from Amazon, and a Marantz 7007 and Onkyo 5010 from another vendor. All arrived in one piece and after a week with these units, one came out clearly on top: the Denon AVR-4520CI.
I've never liked the Denon AVR sound of late because they didn't match well with my Monitor Audio speakers. The Onkyos and Yamahas fared much better in this regard. But with the 4520CI, they sound amazing, for both stereo music and 5.1-7.1 channel movies. I've read other reviews about how the outgoing Denon AVR-4311 model sounds similarly as good, but unfortunately I've overlooked that while my allegiance was in Yamaha mode. The Marantz falls a bit short here for some reason and I doubt it has much to do with the lower power rating. Don't get me wrong, the Marantz sounds good, but compared to the Denon and Onkyo, there's definitely something lacking. Best description I can give is that the Marantz was not as immersive in many of the surround modes, and also lacked impact. Musically however, it was on par. Perhaps it's the higher spec Audyssey XT32 on the Denon and Onkyo that gave them the edge over the Marantz? Whatever it was, the 4520CI and Onkyo 5010 are tops in my book among the latest breed of AVRs. And what sets the Denon apart from the Onkyo are the additional touches: better and more intuitive OSD, Airplay support, and Audyssey LFC (low frequency containment) which I must mention, works amazingly well for watching bass-heavy material late night in my condo building. Additional icing on the cake: the Denon 4520CI even has a 4-port ethernet switch built-in! Yes, it can even help you manage your home network especially after your router has run out of ports to accommodate your other other network-ready devices, consoles, and disc players. Let's face it, as our networked high-definition systems grow and warrant the need for more HDMI inputs, so does the need for network connectivity when wifi just won't cut it.
So the AVR-4520CI is a keeper. It sounds great, has all the features I wanted, and you won't believe how relieved I am that it does not have any HDMI handshaking issues in my system. Unboxed my 2nd unit (after returning the one damaged from shipping), made all the connections, powered up, ran initial setup and audsyssey, and within 30 mins I was up and running in 7.1 glory. Tested all the sources and all video and audio decoding (even high resolution audio like TrueHD and DTS HD Master) worked flawlessly! In this age of highly complicated receivers with long lists of features, gimmicks, gadgets, networking capabilities, and complex audio and video decoding and processing, it's nice to see one that delivers without a hitch right out of the box. In my experience, this is a rarity. I'm very satisfied with this purchase and although I really wanted the Yamaha RX-A3020 to work for me, in some ways I'm glad it didn't otherwise I would've easily overlooked this new Denon model. It just works and works well. Having the best OSD (on screen display) and interface among the other receivers I mentioned on this review doesn't hurt either. Highly recommend it.